Don't be "that guy" at the campground by making these ten common campground mistakes, which will inevitably bother your neighbors.
With summer approaching, that means many people will be hitting the roads and heading to campgrounds to spend time with Mother Nature. As we’ve been living on the road in our RV the last few months, we’ve come to realize that having good neighbors in a campground can really make or break the experience. Having a good neighbor can lead to sharing knowledge, sharing experiences, and even making new friends. Having a bad neighbor can lead to frustrations, sleepless nights, and a sour feeling when your camping experience is over.
To help you make sure that you are always a good campground neighbor, I’ve put together a list of the top ten bad behaviors we have seen in campgrounds. Some of these you might consider more of pet peeves, but I can assure you that I’ve heard multiple people complain about these behaviors. To be considerate of all the others who are sharing the campground with you, it’s best to avoid doing any of the things on this list.
#1 – Being Trashy
In my younger years, I had the opportunity to work at a few camp facilities where I learned the basics of camping. The biggest rule of spending time in nature is, “Leave no trace.” This is for a few reasons. First, no one wants to arrive at a campsite and find someone else’s trash littering the space. Second, you’re potentially harming nature and animals if you leave trash around.
Many things don’t burn (like bottle caps, tin cans, and foil wrappers), so even if you “dispose” of them in a fire ring, all you’re really doing is leaving trash for someone else to clean up. Plus, if critters can get to your trash, they are more likely to cause damage to your belongings and injury to the people in your party. Trust me, you’ll think twice about tossing your bread crusts into the forest the first time you encounter a raccoon who wants more of your yummy food. Be a good neighbor, and SAFE camper, by making sure all your trash is secured in a vehicle or in the appropriate trash receptacles.
#2 – Being Loud
Here’s a little newsflash: most people go to campgrounds to get closer to nature and get away from people. Most people aren’t going to campgrounds to have to deal with noisy neighbors. It’s disrupting, and it takes away from the experience of everyone else in the campground, no matter what time of day the noise is occurring. If you are unsure if your group is being too loud, take a little walk around the campground and see how far your voices are carrying. If you can hear your group across the park, you’re likely disrupting the entire park. Even if you can only hear your group 3 or 4 spaces away, you are likely disrupting at least 5 to 8 groups. Be considerate of your neighbors and keep your voices, music, and activities at a low volume level to allow everyone the ability to enjoy nature.
#3 – Staying Up Late
This behavior is closely related to #2, but it applies to your night time activities. I’ve been at campgrounds where the groups next to us are quiet all day, then start grilling and drinking around 7 pm. By midnight they are fully intoxicated and have no concept of how loud they are being. They didn’t notice that almost everyone else in the park went to bed shortly after the sun went down, and are now lying in their tents cursing at the group of partiers in the campground. Even if you aren’t partying, your voices are going to seem louder at night when others are trying to sleep. As a general rule, try and start turning in around 10 pm, or the campground’s designated quiet time, whichever is earlier.
#4 – Letting Your Kids Run Wild
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about kids playing and exploring nature, but if they are allowed to run free with absolutely no supervision, they can become an annoyance to other campers. Yes, please do let your kids run, ride bikes, climb trees, and explore, but make sure they know a few rules before letting them loose. General campground etiquette that all kids should know includes:
- Don’t run through an occupied campsite
- Always watch for cars and bikes on roads
- Move out of the roads if a car is coming through
- Put your trash in receptacles
- Never throw rocks or other items at trailers, tents, or vehicles
- Ask permission before approaching pets
Keep a closer eye on your kids until you know that they are able to follow the rules while playing, both to make sure that they stay safe, and to ensure they are being polite campers. Once they have demonstrated that they can be trusted, still check in on them occasionally, but you should be able to let them experience nature on their own a little more.
#5 – Speeding
Most campgrounds have posted speed limits of five to ten miles per hour. This is for the safety of everyone in the park. There are often kids playing and people walking, so a speeding car can create a major safety issue for everyone at the park. No one really enjoys driving 5 mph, but obeying the low speed limit is a safety measure you should always observe in campgrounds. It’s not worth shaving off a couple minutes of your drive if you endanger other others in the process. Slow down, and obey those speed limits!